Present today only in hundreds, the Parsi community of Pakistan, especially in Karachi, yearn for positive change and an inclusive atmosphere for all minorities. This hope stems from the upcoming general elections.
Time and again, members of the community have confessed to fleeing abroad in the face of the ‘insecurities’ that minorities face in the country. When asked what they look for in a candidate, the majority look for a leader who bears the rights of minorities in mind and can make changes to the current political fabric.
The community looks for someone who can not only commit themselves to turn the country into a secure place for those who currently live under the fear of discrimination, but can actually live up to them. The Parsi community awaits change and recognition of minorities and their rights in political manifestos.
Jamshed Patel, 51, told The Express Tribune, “As a minority, we feel insecure and threatened most of the time. Although I don’t intend to leave Karachi ever, we are sending our kids abroad where they don’t face discrimination.”
Auzita Bhurucha, 19, was of the opinion that someone “who is against the prosecution of minorities and will allow them the freedom to practice their religion freely” is ideally what a candidate should have in their manifesto.
Dr Naheed Malbari shared that multiple community members vote and always participate in the electoral process. “My grandmother and members of our family and community vote each time. We pull up a wheelchair for her and we all go together to vote.”
Jazmine Vania, 22, said that her faith in the electoral process has diminished. “Of course, we prefer voting. But there are no fair elections, so mostly people don’t go to vote,” she said. “Personally, I do not feel insecure. It is just that we are dwindling in numbers and ours is a small community, so the chances of our voices being heard are fairly low.”
Journalist Dilaira Mondegarian told The Express Tribune that she only voted to see new faces in the government and end the dynasty-style rule which is in vogue of all the political parties. “Although they all had half-baked, blinkered manifestos, I’m voting for ‘change’.”
Mondegarian remains doubtful about her vote this year. In 2013, she recalls that her husband went to the polling station but his vote had already been cast. He was told, “our party provides protection to the Zoroastrian community”. This time, however, nobody came knocking on our door for votes, she added.
“This is also largely because the Zoroastrian population in this country is too small to affect change anymore,” she added.
With the community still undecided about the elections’ outcome, many said that handing the reigns of the “democratic show” to a new entrant may positively impact society. None of the former leaders lived up to their promises or our expectations, members of the community added.
The Parsi community is hoping for political parties to change direction and come out with an inclusive manifesto that takes care of the rights and protection of everyone. With a dire need for change in the country, much of the hope lost is owing to the long history of promises unkempt and forgotten.